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North Charleston police officer 1 of 3 people wounded in James Island shooting

Charleston County Sheriff's Office webref (copy)

An off-duty North Charleston police officer was among three people wounded in a drive-by shooting in James Island earlier this month.

Neither the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shooting, nor the North Charleston Police Department told the public that an officer had been struck in the barrage of gunfire March 10.

That fact was withheld from a press release issued by the Sheriff's Office the next day. It said deputies responded to a shooting outside a home in the 1900 block of Central Park Road, where they found three people shot.

"Two men and a woman were transported to (Medical University of South Carolina) for treatment of their injuries, which were not considered life-threatening," wrote Andrew Knapp, a sheriff's spokesman. That Knapp responded to the scene wasn't made public until The Post and Courier finally obtained a copy of an incident report March 24.

Only after five days of repeated requests from the newspaper for the report detailing the shooting did Knapp hand it over, which confirmed the officer's involvement. Several of the responding officers note in their narratives that a fellow officer was one of the victims.

Deputy Police Chief Ken Hagge confirmed March 24 that an officer had been injured while off-duty but declined to identify him or answer other questions about the incident. 

The officer remains employed by the department, Hagge said, but he wouldn't comment on his current duty status.

The names of all three victims, including the officer's, and witnesses were redacted from the 18-page incident report citing "concerns for their safety," Knapp said in an email.

It is unclear why the officer, or anyone, was at the home at the time of shooting. Their addresses were also redacted, making it unclear if any of the victims or witnesses lived there.

The redactions make it difficult to discern which man received which wound, but one was grazed by a bullet to his upper thigh. One deputy describes the NCPD officer's injury as "a flesh wound."

The other man had a "through and through," meaning a bullet entered one side of his upper thigh and exited the other. In the hospital, the man made comments leading a deputy and a nurse to fear he might retaliate, adding that he knew the shooter. Knapp confirmed it was not the officer who made these comments.

Shrapnel embedded in the female victim's cheek was removed at MUSC. She had been sitting in a car parked in front of the home when the shooting began, the report said.

The North Charleston officer told responding deputies "he was on the side door stoop when he heard what he thought were fireworks. Then he noticed he had been shot." 

When deputies arrived, the North Charleston officer turned his gun over to them. The injured officer told deputies that after the shooting started, he retrieved his "duty weapon," which he'd left in his car parked in the back of the home. He said he was "unable to get to it before the rounds stopped."

One of the male victims estimated hearing 20 shots. That person told deputies he did not return fire and didn't know if someone else had.

At the scene, deputies recovered 15 9 mm shell casings, one unspent round, and two handguns, a Glock and a Springfield XD.

Hagge would not say what type of gun North Charleston officers are issued.

Hagge said he disagreed with a reporter that the public had a right to know that an officer was injured in a shooting.

When asked why the officer's involvement was withheld, Knapp responded: "We don't typically release where a victim is employed in our initial public statements, and this incident was treated no differently in that regard." 

Reach Ali Rockett at 843-901-1708. Follow her on Twitter @AliRockettPC.

Ali Rockett covers crime and public safety in the Charleston area. She previously worked at papers in Virginia and her home state of North Carolina.

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